Part 5: Spring 2017 Labs

62 Canvas Emerging Best Practices with John Martin — 03.03.2017

The March 3, 2017 Active Teaching Lab explored emerging best practices in Canvas. John Martin and the Active Teaching Lab team collated the most useful Canvas tips we have heard and invited others to share.


  • Go to the Canvas Community and vote for changes you want to see in Canvas.
  • Sometimes what the instructor sees is not what the student ultimately sees in Canvas, so be sure to regularly check “Student view” under settings or enroll a colleague/TA as a student to see the final product.
  • Consider hiding grades as you are still entering them so that students do not panic when some students have grades and others do not.
  • In D2L, grades could be grouped under a grade theme (e.g. all quizzes could be entered under “quizzes”). This process is not as clear in Canvas.
  • Students and instructors can control their own contrast settings in Canvas by going to “Account,” “settings.” “High Contract UI” makes everything black, gray and white. Google Chrome also has a high contrast option.
  • If you teach multiple sections of the same course, you can create a single Canvas course, invite students from all sections to a single course and separate the students into groups.
    • No need to recreate multiple courses if the same content/assignments/rubrics are covered.
    • When you divide students into groups, they gain access to user-friendly group-based navigation.
    • Take a look at the video (35:00) for a demonstration.
  • If you want to randomize quiz questions, create a “question group” in your quiz. You can then choose how many of those questions you would like to appear randomly for the students.
  • Canvas Release Notes cover the latest Canvas updates.
  • View the session’s activity sheet for additional support materials.

Active Teaching Labs are held every Friday from 8:45-9:45am (and every other Monday from 12:30pm-1:30pm, see events calendar for dates) in room 120, Middleton Building. Check out the upcoming labs or read the recaps from past labs — or see them all in one place in our new  Active Teaching Lab eJournal ( To stay informed about upcoming Labs, check back to this website or sign up for regular announcements by sending an email to

UW-Madison is transitioning to Canvas as a single, centrally supported LMS, and will discontinue support for D2L and Moodle by 2018. Visit for information and resources.

Watch the full discussion:


Active Teaching Lab eJournal Copyright © 2016 by DoIT Academic Technology and the UW-Madison Teaching Academy; Jennifer Hornbaker; John Martin; Julie Johnson; Karin Spader; Margaret Merrill; Margaret Murphy; and Jeffrey Thomas. All Rights Reserved.

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